Ski Resorts: Mix It Up With Season Passes
For decades, ski resorts followed a simple formula for determining season pass and lift ticket prices: increase the price each year, regardless of demand. But in recent years, a fruitful combination of innovative marketing techniques, near ubiquitous use of the Internet, and serious industry consolidation have greatly expanded the options—and even price range—available to consumers.
While brand advertising continues to play a big role in drawing consumer awareness, consolidation plus the customer’s ability to use technology to quickly find the best deal has had a direct impact on prices.
For example, Vail Resorts, the largest operator of destination ski resorts in the country, offers the Epic Pass, covering mountains in California, Colorado, Michigan, and even Switzerland. And in 2012, a group of world-class ski areas, including Aspen Skiing Company (Aspen, Snowmass, Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands, CO); Jackson, WY; Alta and Snowbird, UT; Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, CA; and Whistler/Blackcomb, BC bonded together to form the Mountain Collective, offering discounts to users who travel between them.
Not only have these changes affected the types of passes and tickets being offered, but they’ve led to a propensity towards pre-sale discounted offers nationwide.
In Vermont, resorts such as Jay Peak opened up season pass pre-sales in March with a twist—allowing the passes to be utilized right away to finish up the current season.
Another recent, and wildly successful, trend that resorts are embracing is discounted season passes for young adults under 30—an audience that has long skied on their parents' dime and is now desperate to find affordable ways to pay for it on their own.
In an industry which has witnessed a clear shift away from marketing season passes towards primarily locals or those within driving distance, the resorts that are able to provide new and exciting offers will come out on top. KSV's own client, Okemo Mountain Resort, has certainly made a great step in the right direction by offering a season pass valid both on their terrain in Vermont and at Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado.
Within an ever changing environment fueled by constantly evolving technology, the key to success lies in a ski resort’s ability to mix it up and stay relevant.